I just got back from California and as is the case each time I am there I am awed by the beauty of the place. The weather’s great. The general disposition of people is positive and laid back. There is a business energy in San Francisco, especially now, which is electric. I walked through the financial district earlier this month a few blocks and down to Fisherman’s Wharf in search of sea lions, and I overheard 3 conversations between young business types talking about start-ups. No joke. 1 every 4 blocks. I am convinced that a hedge fund strategy based on gathering information by just wandering around Market Street at lunchtime could work. I am almost not kidding.
But in the bars and over meals, in the heart of liberal San Fran I heard over and over about how California sure could use another party. I told them we could use another party in Washington DC. Usually we agreed that we were both right.
(From The Orange County Register)
Let’s be frank. California’s democracy is fading, the result of one-party politics, a weak media culture and a sense among many that politicians in Sacramento (or city hall) will do whatever they please once in office. As under the old PRI in Mexico, a lack of competitive politics has also bred the kind of endemic corruption with which California, in recent decades, was not widely associated.
The case of state Sen. Leland Yee, the Bay Area crusading liberal now accused of being a wannabe gun-runner, was just the most extreme example. If Yee is convicted and sent to jail, he might be joined by two Senate colleagues, one convicted of voter fraud and the other of bribery. The scandals have damaged the Legislature’s approval ratings.
Republicans and conservatives tend to blame such embarrassments on Democrats, just as the long out-of-power outsiders linked Mexico’s corruption to the PRI monopoly. But, in many ways, it reflects the dynamic, also seen in Republican-dominated states, such as Mississippi, or in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, of those who see no threat to their monopoly taking license to steal or otherwise abuse the law.
In short California has become a crony state, despite the energy flowing out of the Bay Area, which is frankly a miracle. Too much further down the route Cali is headed and it risks killing the tech golden goose. Or at least clipping its wings. That would be a tragedy.
The tech guys who understand markets should start to speak up and do something about One Party California, for their own sakes.